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Midwest Furfest 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments No Comments

I just spent a chilly weekend in the Chicago suburbs with my furry friends! This was my second year attending Midwest Furfest, one of the biggest furry conventions in the world. I made and sold art, met new people, danced, attended shows, and got in a little more trouble than anyone there bargained for. You might’ve seen Midwest Furfest on the news thanks to its evacuation in the wee hours of Sunday. Chlorine powder was found in one of the stairwells and sent nearly 20 people to the hospital. Thankfully, neither I nor any of my friends were hurt, and as far as I’ve heard, those who suffered exposure have since been released from the hospital. The rest of the con was a memorable success for me on many counts, even with that incident and resulting sleep deprivation factored in.

Since furry has been in the news lately and some of my friends and family unfamiliar with the fandom have asked me about it, I thought I’d explain a little first this time before launching into the events of the convention.

So What is Furry, Anyway?

Simply put, furry fandom is a celebration of anthropomorphized animals, or animals with human characteristics. This is often just explained as “cartoon animals.” Members of the fandom and attendees of conventions express their interest in these animal characters through art, writing, music, performance, costumes, puppetry, and a variety of other activities. Any individual furry fan – or just a “furry” – will explore their interest in different venues than their peers. For some, it’s primarily a celebration of creativity. For others, it’s a place to party with friends. And yes, for a certain group, it includes space to explore more adult activities. While these choices of expressing “furry” differ person by person, the core experience enjoyed by all comes back to that interest in human-like animals and often in-jokes and memes the subculture has spawned during its growth. It’s ultimately about having fun and expressing yourself in an imaginative way.

Most furry fans use at least one character they created themselves as a form of self-expression, and many go by their characters’ names in fandom contexts. I am listed as “Nyomi” or “Nyomi Naomh” in convention materials like my Dealer’s table or in the art show because this is the name of my first fandom character. I’ll be shifting my fandom art branding and identity entirely to “Moth Monarch” soon since I’ve identified much more strongly with her as of late and because she’s more appropriate for the bug art I tend to make. Other friends I speak of in these reports are also usually mentioned by their fandom name rather than their legal one, as this is how we know each other best.

Left: Nyomi as depicted by Ashley Sanders. Right: Moth Monarch as I’ve drawn her.

There are a lot more facets I could discuss in detail, but it’s hard to guess what people want to know! If you have any questions about furry fandom, I’ll be happy to try to answer them in the comments. Now, to the con!

Thursday, December 4th

I checked in at the airport since the airline’s system wouldn’t let me do it online. American Airlines put me on an earlier flight than I’d scheduled for unknown reasons, though I’m not complaining – I got to the con sooner! After settling in my hotel room and looking around for my roomies (who had already arrived but were elsewhere), I wandered around the con space and got reacquainted with the hotel. The Hyatt Regency O’Hare is a pretty fantastic place.

A balcony view of the lobby space, including the O’H Grill.

One by one, friends and acquaintances arrived. I ran into Giza first, who is local to me and can easily be spotted at any con by the Final Fantasy-style white mage hoodie he wears. Later I met up with Floppybelly; she makes pipe cleaner critters and would be my tablemate in the Dealers’ Den for the weekend. My roomies returned from adventures nearby, and other friends checked in through the afternoon and evening. Registration opened but the line was long, so Floppy, Giza, and I went to Red Bar for dinner. The conversation was just as good as the sushi!

After eating, I picked up my badge, and Floppy and I set up our dealer’s table. We went with an extended arrangement of her usual cube stack with my stuff on one side and hers on the top and other side. I picked up some tips on how to make my own cube setup easier and faster to handle – she keeps her grid panels zipped-tied together in their arrangement and just folds them up to pack or secures the joints for setup. It took a little while to arrange everything, but we were pretty much done before Thursday setup closed.

I spent the rest of the evening with my roomies and other friends I’d missed. I ran into Uncle Kage (a storyteller and chairman of Anthrocon) and tried to give him some drawings I’d done from his livestreams since AC, but he was already well into a bottle of wine and a little too easily distracted. I also met a few new people when a friend invited me back to her room where a bunch of folks were hanging out. By the time I went to bed, I felt ready to tackle the art show and first day in the Dealers’ Den. It turned out one of my roomies snored, which was an unpleasant surprise, but a suggestion from twitter got me set up with a white noise app that drowned it right out and let me sleep in peace.

Friday, December 5th

After securing a few things at my Dealer table, I went to set up the art show. The line took a while and I was so tired I had to juggle my coffee and art pieces. Midwest Furfest had plenty of hanging hooks and supplies to get the art secured on the grid panels, so it wasn’t too difficult even though I was used to pegboard panels. They also gave me a sign with my name to put up while I checked in all my pieces:

My panel in the art show. Two giclée prints, four originals.

I went back to the Dealers’ room and drew a little badge of an anthro version of my luna moth, Terry, until the Den opened. Business was a slow at first as people headed for the most popular artists, but I did pretty well over the course of the day. The weekend would prove to defy the usual sales patterns I’d observed at previous conventions – this time, I got most of my commissions on the second and third days, while bandanas did best on the first day with some sales again on Sunday. Button and print sales were scattered throughout the weekend. It was fun to share a table with someone I knew rather than a random dealer, and I felt safer getting up for a break when I needed to, as I knew my stuff would be watched by someone I trusted.

Me at the dealer table I shared with Floppy!

Friends came to check on me throughout the day. Someone graciously brought me a coffee. The den was supposed to close at 7, and originally I’d had plans to leave 5-10 minutes early to make it to a show I had to livedraw, but Floppy and I made the executive decision to duck out at 6 and have some dinner first since we’d barely eaten all day. She ordered us some pizza (one Chicago deep dish and one gluten free flat crust with pepperoni… under the cheese. That was a new one for me). The order arrived just in time for us to leave the Den when we planned. We grabbed a spot in the con suite, chowed down, and got in line for the Story Hour. Which I drew as usual.

I somehow managed to nab Kage again in a less-drunk state as I was coming down from my room sometime later in the evening. He actually accepted the drawings this time and we chatted for a moment. A couple security guards went by to the back of the O’H Grill; he noticed but shook it off as “not my problem, not my con.” I have to wonder if he also was haunted by the same mysterious, uneasy feeling that I and some of my friends couldn’t seem to shake before the con. He excused himself to bed, and I juggled finishing a sketch commission with visiting Arrow and other buddies until I was ready for the same.

Saturday, December 6th

I hopped down to the Dealers’ Den in time to open and handled customers for the full duration of the day, 10-6. Buttons from all three sets I brought sold along with badge commissions, and I had some inquiries about custom work after the convention. Another coffee angel came by, and later Kittiara brought me a party hat. I gave her a bag of Sour Patch Kids. We both have December birthdays, you see.

I honestly don’t remember what I did for dinner, but I know during the evening I spent some time with friends and sketched badges I was to finish for my customers. By sheer luck, someone on twitter made me aware that the artist of Bug Pond was attending the con, so I went to the con suite to meet her and we ended up drawing each others’ bugs. It was awesome!

Jasmine Coté’s depiction of one of her bugs and Moth Monarch!

11pm rolled around and it was time for the 2-Gether Charity Show. While the shenanigans weren’t quite as wild as last year, a lot of silly and interesting things still happened, and the performers drank a lot of alcohol. I livedrew the event but will have to clean up the sketches before scanning since they got smudged afterward. Near the end, Kage took a bathroom break and commented on the large number of emergency vehicles in front of the hotel when he returned. We weren’t immediately worried; ambulances are called now and then during conventions to attend to those who drank too heavily, suffered heat exhaustion from fursuiting, or encountered other sudden medical problems. There were even more red-and-blue lights flashing through the doors of the ballroom by the end of the show, though, and some of us were starting to get worried. Kage went to investigate as did some of the show’s attendees.

The Chlorine Evacuation

The lights weren’t ambulances. They were fire trucks. The word to evacuate came moments after the Charity Show ended. The nearby ballrooms emptied out into the freezing Chicago night along with floor after floor of the main hotel. People were wearing whatever they were caught in – fursuits, dance clothes, PJs; some were lucky enough to be in their coats or have scarves and gloves. Emergency personnel went room to room on some floors making people leave. Many from the main hotel had smelled chlorine on the way out; those of us in the ballrooms thought there was a fire at first until news spread about a “gas leak.” More emergency vehicles showed up by the minute, including a hazmat team. We were moved across the street and huddled together there, sharing warm items and texting our friends to see whether they’d made it out. Fursuiters surrounded the underdressed to help protect them from the cold. My group managed to gather 15-20 people who knew each other and kept an eye out for more. We reassured each other while we waited to hear what would happen next.

It was some time before the nearby convention center was opened to us, though I’m sure those in charge got that arranged as quickly as possible. The lights and heat were turned on for us to take shelter there, and evacuees poured in. My friends and I regrouped and stayed together as they asked us several times to move farther and farther back into the building. We kept track of our own and others who seemed to need help. Some tried to sleep on the concrete floor while others talked or drew to pass the time. Some watched their groups’ things as others tried to locate bathrooms, water, or safe exits. Of all things in the middle of the commotion, I managed to meet someone I’d been wanting to the whole con. I drew her character while we sat and waited for the all-clear.

speckle pepper moth
A sketch of a new friend’s moth character, “Speckle Pepper,” done to pass the time while waiting for the all-clear.

Several hours later, we were finally allowed to reenter the hotel. The mass of people took some time to move from the convention center into the ballroom area, and a friend lent me his coat as I was shivering violently. “This is spring in Saskatchewan!” he said. Reporters and news camera stood on the side of the road interviewing some folks. Many thanked the emergency responders on the way in. My group made it back to our rooms in the early morning and passed out quickly from exhaustion. Unfortunately, my room in particular had an issue with our keys and had to be let back inside by security.

The entire situation only really became clear for my friends and I the next morning. We didn’t all know then that chlorine had been found scattered a deliberate fashion (police called it “intentional”) between the 9th and 10th floors. We had no idea 19 people had been hospitalized for chlorine exposure. Since then, we’ve been dealing with the idea of surviving what appears to have been an act of domestic terrorism, though who did this and why have still not been confirmed. I sincerely hope that the responsible party faces justice for their actions and that there will be no copycat attacks at future conventions. It boggles my mind that someone would want to permanently harm or potentially kill people who just happen to have a slightly weirder hobby than the average Joe. It is what it is, but I doubt this is the last I will speak of it.

Sunday, December 7th

After a few hours’ sleep, I managed to scrape myself off the bed, get cleaned up, and make it down to Dealers’ open only a few minutes late. I was pretty exhausted, but thankfully Damaris brought me coffee again. Traffic was slow until more people woke up. My customers were understanding of commissions that had to become homework thanks to the evacuation, and I only had to issue one refund. I took a break several hours in to go check myself out of the art show. All but one piece sold, and I got an award for “Snow Angel”!

Snow Angel, 5×7″ ink and watercolor.

This award was left for me on the panel when I checked out! Staff Pick!

Floppy and I wrapped up Dealer hours, then tore down our table with the help of my tallest friend who goes by “FirHax.” I think it only took us about half an hour! We hauled our remaining goods to our respective hotel rooms. I met up with roomies to go to Closing Ceremonies, though I wasn’t feeling well throughout since my check-in email for my flight was late. It did come afterward, and I got my check from the art show, so everything was sorted out before Shiro and I decided to go have dinner. I ordered some more sushi and at last had the margarita I’d been saying I would have for months before MFF. It was delicious, and I was delightfully floaty for a while as the two of us got to talk about a lot of things. I bounced an idea for a short comic off Shiro, and he presented his own perspective that led to an even better conclusion for the story than I’d conceived of on my own. Shiro also did a tarot reading for me as I find them interesting and often get new perspectives on problems from discussing the cards’ outcomes. It was a solid evening to wrap up an interesting convention. Not much later, we were all beginning to pack and slide into bed.

Monday, December 8th & Onward

I left for the airport with Shiro and friends despite not flying out until several hours later. There was a lot of time to think at the airport. I slept through much of my flight and made it home safely.

This was my last convention of the year. I will be spending Christmas with my family and then heading out to FC in January with visits to dear friends in the area scheduled before and after. I hope to take some time to breathe, explore, and reconnect with my art and goals after all the bustle of the holidays. There are big things ahead, and I must be ready to make them happen.

While my real name will continue to be used as the overall unifying brand for all my artwork, I will be shifting my fandom presence from “Nyomi Naomh” to “Moth Monarch” over the next year as mentioned. FC will be the last con where I am listed as “Nyomi Naomh.” New cards and promotional material will be phased in. I will also start going by “Moth Monarch” or just “Monarch,” though friends who have known me for a while will of course be welcome to continue calling me Nyomi. Here’s to a positive change and lots of growth in 2015! If I don’t write much again before this year fades away, Happy Holidays and have a safe New Year’s!

All photos © 2014 Mary T. Capaldi unless otherwise noted.

Anthrocon 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments No Comments


Just wrapped up another great weekend in Pittsburgh! This was my sixth year attending and second year dealing at the world’s largest furry convention. People travel by car, bus, train, and plane from many states and countries to celebrate animal characters together at Anthrocon. Every year brings new experiences and surprises, and this was no different – for one, I was asked to draw an official image to advertise the charity performance! The weekend was a whirlwind of activity that ended far too quickly, but my fond memories of friends and fun make all the hard work worthwhile.

As always with furry conventions, I and many other attendees are often known by fan names, so I’ll try to keep things clear in this report! I’m known in these circles as “Nyomi Naomh.”

Wednesday, July 2nd

I arrived in Pittsburgh with Susan, and we quickly met up with our friend Goldeen “Agent Elrond” (or “Rondie”) Ogawa.  The three of us settled into the hotel room. This was my first year staying in the Courtyard Marriott instead of the Westin. The Courtyard is known to be preferred by artists and dealers for its quieter atmosphere compared to the main hotel, and I definitely appreciated the chance to draw or sleep without distractions from noisy neighbors. We had a dinner scheduled at the Fish Market in less than two hours after our arrival, so we put on some nice clothes, then briefly parted ways to take care of errands and touch base with other friends.

At 6:30, the three of us converged on the restaurant to meet up with Chiaroscuro (Dealer’s Room director), Witchiebunny (staff member), and Uncle Kage (the chairman). Dinner ensued. Crazy convention stories were told. I got completely lost in the menu of unfamiliar seafood and was blamed for finishing Kage’s wine. The sushi and sashimi I ended up with were delicious. I said little and listened to much!

Dafydd and Lily with sushi.

The rest of the day was spent drawing and meeting up with other friends and artists. I slept very well.

Thursday, July 3rd

I spent some time in the social area (called the “Zoo”) drawing and touching base with more people. Mid-morning, I dropped by Con Ops to pick up the bugdanas, as I’d had them shipped directly to the convention. The staff wasn’t able to locate my package at first, but after some emails to the screen printer about the tracking, we managed to find it – it was there all along but under the wrong name. I went straight back to my room and tore it open to find the bugdanas exactly as I’d hoped they would be! It was thrilling to see something I’d designed end up being produced as a real object. I set aside enough for the online preorders and put the rest in my dealer’s bag.

Registration opened a little early, and I headed down there to find no line at all for dealers’ reg. Witchiebunny got me my badge and ribbons in less than a minute. I passed the time until dealers’ setup by doing a survey, drawing some more, and coordinating plans with friends. A few hours later, my assistant Jeff/”Keys”and I carried my stuff into Hall B and got my table assembled. We helped Rondie a bit with her table, too, since she was right next to me. The art show allowed early hanging for dealers this year, so Keys helped me put up the highest pieces, then let me finish on my own. It took a few hours to get all my setup done. I worked up quite the appetite for dinner.

My table, freshly set up and ready for Friday’s crowds!

I suggested pizza to Keys and ended up spending hours in his room with old friends and new acquaintances. We chowed down, talked, and shared a ridiculous game of Super Mario 3D World. I excused myself when it started to get dark and returned to my room to get a little more work done before the morning. At one point I needed a break, popped into the Zoo, and found another person who really loves moths. Meeting lots of people who were interested in bugs, both real and anthropomorphic, was definitely a highlight of this year’s Anthrocon.

Friday, July 4th

Before the Dealer’s Den opened, I managed to get some breakfast and coffee and finish a bit more work. Rondie had just got her first fursuit and decided to surprise 2 the Ranting Gryphon (a popular furry comedian and Rondie’s friend) by showing up in it without telling him. 2’s favorite fursuit performer is Telephone, an angel dragon; as Rondie’s Tachyon is of the same species design, the two suiters showed up together and made mischief with each other and a foam pickaxe. I got footage.

In order: Tachyon, 2 Gryphon, and Telephone.

The first half-hour of business went a little slower than usual, but things picked up as the day continued. Last year’s enthusiasm for badges was replaced by a lot of requests for sketch commissions. A stack of sketchbooks remained in rotation on my table and in my working bags for the next 48 hours. I had a lot more fun completing the sketches than I used to, though, so it was no trouble.

Customers picked up a only few zines and bugdanas on Friday, but button sales were steady throughout the weekend. I have repeatedly observed a pattern of sales in which custom art is bought in greatest numbers early in the convention, while merchandise and other items do better from the middle to the end as people see how much money they have left after commissions.

A moth character reading and sitting on a leaf – my first of many sketch commissions this convention.

I ducked out of the dealer’s room a few minutes early and made it to Uncle Kage’s Story Hour. For those unaware, I have been live-drawing during Kage’s performances and online streams since Midwest Furfest last year. Usually the results are a half-page or so of doodles preserving various moments from the performance, but with Kage’s character (a roach) speaking or acting instead of the man. I found a seat in decent view of the stage and got to work while Kage told of conventions past, saké blunders, and a lost passport, among other things. The results are in my mischief section along with all the previous sets of doodles.

After the show, I zipped away to put on my dress clothes and attend the Artists and Dealers Reception. This invitation-only event is held in the evening after sales and show hours to allow those busy selling or creating during the day to view the show at their leisure and enjoy some refreshments. I grabbed a coffee (with a lid, of course), then browsed along with my new moth friend from the night before. Viewing the show largely with other artists created an interesting atmosphere: one in which we could freely discuss any given piece, technique, subject, or composition. I lingered long enough to view some sections twice. When I left, the fireworks were still going, and I sat by a window to watch.

Of course, there were sketches to draw and badges to color for Saturday. I returned to the hotel room to work again!

Bugs playing a word game for a themed sketchbook commission: “let’s play.”

Saturday, July 5th

Saturday is the longest sales day of the convention. I worked on custom art all through dealer’s hours while customers came by to pick up or check on their work or to purchase some of my bug merchandise. Bugdana sales were best on this day, and purchases of “Bug Goes to the Con” were pretty strong. Performers in fursuits bounced around at all hours and took over the hall for a spell during mid-afternoon during the parade, which proved a great opportunity for both photos and uninterrupted working time. There were apparently 1,326 animal costumes in the parade this year!

A playful gryphon stopped by for a bit of attention!

After hours, I grabbed some dinner, then headed to the relocated Zoo for a themed art jam. Some of the artists and friends who attended I hadn’t talked to since the year before! A big poster was passed around for everyone to draw on, but I didn’t add anything this time to avoid getting food on it – there was a Dippin’ Dots vendor in the new Zoo and I decided to try it out. The servings look small but are unexpectedly dense!

The last official dances of the con were held this night, but I didn’t get to attend. I still had work to finish! This is the first year I couldn’t go to any of the dances, which was pretty disappointing, but the demand for my art felt encouraging in contrast. I drew in the hotel for a while and planned to join an artist-only quiet workroom Rondie and I had been invited to, but then Amber/”Miss Mab” asked if I would like to work with her. Since we were familiar with each other (I wasn’t sure who would be in the other room), I took the personal invitation and drew in her room into the wee hours of Sunday.

Sunday, July 6th

A happy customer with his new bugdana! Photo by Antnommer.

I had two more badges to finish this morning but managed to wrap them up pretty quickly. With the end of the con in sight and my mood and energy lower than usual for Anthrocon, I decided I wouldn’t push myself to finish any more work on-site, only accept projects I could bring home. I also granted myself half an hour of personal time to shop and look around the Dealer’s room since I hadn’t yet had an opportunity. This was a planned allowance; I put a sign on my table the day before to clarify my hours for Sunday since I knew I would open a bit late and close early.

Sales were slow, which is normal for Sunday. I finalized arrangements with Keys to pick up my paperwork and any unsold pieces from the art show. By 3pm, I had my table packed away and checked out of the Dealer’s Den. This gave me enough time to get to the Spirit of Pittsburgh ballroom for the charity show! I’d drawn a poster for the show at the request of Fox Amoore (a musician and one of the performers) and intended to live-draw the events as I had for the Story Hour. This time, Rondie decided to live-draw, too – she’s done many, many drawings and show covers for 2 over the years, so between the both of us, most of the best moments of the show were depicted. We managed to get seats in the very first row, which had consequences…

The charity show poster I drew!

At one point in the show, 2 and Kage were seated at the edge of the stage and happened to look down. Kage said something to the effect of, “Oh look, there’s Nyomi drawing furiously in the front row!” Fox piped up to point out that I had drawn the poster, and then 2 sung Rondie’s praises at length, calling her “lightning pencil.” According to the charity results post on the Anthrocon site, the show alone made $7,350 for the National Aviary – that’s 735 tickets sold. The room was packed, so I’m assuming most if not all of those ticket-holders attended. That’s a lot of people to get a shout-out in front of! Afterward, people even came up to the front wanting to see what the two of us had drawn.

Closing ceremonies followed on the heels of the charity show, but I couldn’t bring myself to attend – somehow, the sense of closure it normally offers seemed inappropriate, as the con was just peaking for me. I talked with Keys briefly about the results of the art show (“Two for Tea” sold after a mini bidding war!), then Rondie and I gathered friends and went down to the same Indian restaurant as last year for a repeat performance of “Dinnercon.” I am making an effort this time to remember the name of the delicious appetizer I was previously only able to refer to as “the cheese thing:” Paneer Pakora. Most of the same people from last year came again, though there were a few new faces. Dinnercon has a wonderful way of bringing people of different talents and spheres together on an equal playing field to meet and get to know each other.

I insisted on going to the last unofficial party known as the “dead dog dance.” Rondie and Susan got into their costumes; we all loaded up on glowsticks and wore bugdanas. The party room wasn’t too active when the three of us got over there, so we hung out briefly in the Zoo for a last hurrah. Then I happened to hear a piano and followed the sound down one floor. Fox Amoore, Rhubarb the Bear, and Cosmik were playing and singing what seemed to be an improv concert with crowd participation. I managed to squeeze up next to the piano and join in singing probably a dozen songs or so. Participatory music was a major force in my upbringing since I was raised with my late dad’s love of folk music, so this event was magical for me in multiple ways. It ended the con on a beautiful high note and offered a real sense of completion and closure. For a while, all my worries were gone, and I was able to sleep well that night.

Going Forward

Adding more conventions to my circuit last year allowed me to get my work greater direct exposure as well as provide more opportunities to see friends who live far away. I’d like to do Midwest Furfest (Rosemont, IL) again and have already made arrangements to attend and show work at Further Confusion (San Jose, CA). Until then, I have many projects to tackle and am offering regular commissions again. You can also check out some of the cool stuff I debuted at Anthrocon in my Storenvy shop – if you wanted something but couldn’t make it, I’m more than happy to ship it to you should it still be available!

Here’s to greater opportunities and more adventure in the months ahead!

All photos © 2014 Mary T. Capaldi unless otherwise noted.

Furry Fiesta 2014 Report!

Posted Posted by Mary in Convention Reports, Main Blog     Comments 2 Comments


I just got back from a weekend in Dallas, TX at Texas Furry Fiesta! This one’s a smaller convention attended by artists, musicians, costumers, and other creative attendees who love animal characters. Going to Furry Fiesta was a late-game decision for me, so I had a little space in the art show but no active sales presence. While I don’t plan to add this convention to my sales circuit in the next year or two, it was a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t mind going again sometime.

As always with “furry” conventions, I and many other attendees are often known by fan names, so I’ll try to keep things clear in this report!

Thursday, February 20th

A friend invited me to stay this convention in her nearby apartment rather than a hotel room, so we got settled in until it was time to head over. Registration differed from other cons I’ve done: you had to have a signed agreement on hand, and you could choose your badge art from four possibilities along the theme, “Heroes and Villains.” Thanks to our 3DSes and Streetpass, we quickly found an artist friend of mine who goes by “Floppybelly” (she makes cute pipe cleaner sculptures)!

There was a little confusion about panel locations during art show setup, but it didn’t take long for me to get situated. I only had half a panel this time because I’d been too busy after FC to do much new work besides commissions.

My half-panel in the art show.

Friday, February 21st

Artist’s Alley and the Dealer’s Den were available to browse shortly before Opening Ceremonies, so we had a quick look around. I picked up a CD from Fox Amoore, who remembered me from MFF! Then my friends and I grabbed seats in the main ballroom. What followed was funny, if a bit long-winded, and included the chairman getting a pie in the face. I checked the Art Show again to see what other artists had up and saw a lot of neat work, though the room could’ve used stronger lighting. I also commissioned a sketch in the tiny Artist’s Alley and dropped off a badge with a client.

Action in the Dealer’s Den.

Later, I tagged along with friends to a panel about faux fur – where to get it, how to sew it, and so on – and took some notes for a few creative projects I have planned. We wandered down to the basement, which used to be nightclub, and watched karaoke. Of course, everyone there joined in for “Bohemian Rhapsody.” The real highlight of the night, though, was the Heroes & Villains rock concert with Fox Amoore. Even with a few quirks in the presentation, the performers’ talent and enthusiasm made for a strong and entertaining evening I doubt I’ll forget. My only regret is not bringing my good camera to this con; I have nothing but grainy phone pictures which did poorly with the stage lighting. Lesson learned!

Always bring the DSLR. Always.

After a late dinner, I won at Settlers of Catan even though I’d only just learned to play it the night before.

Saturday, February 22nd

I started the morning strong by attending a panel called “Total Utter Piñata Destruction,” which was what it says on the tin. By the time it was my turn, someone had broken the bat, but I still managed to use it to make a hole the size of a person’s head in a new piñata. Then I did more browsing, caught up with friends, checked on my pieces in the art show, and went out to lunch. At 1pm, I listened to half of the Blotch artist duo talk about their process for making graphic novels. I found most of the information presented a little basic for my needs but still came out of it with some useful notes – not to mention I got to see some of their originals for Nordguard up close and personal!

Most of the con then shut down to either join in or attend the fursuit parade. A lot of interesting and creative costumes walked by, but my favorite was a rosy maple moth! I managed to snag the person afterward for a decent picture:

They had adorable little wings in the back, too.

Fox Amoore held a panel about recording his latest album at Abbey Road. From his telling of it, the experience was simultaneously intimidating and fulfilling. I had gone in with the intention of livedrawing the panel, but it didn’t really end up with the tone that works best for my livedraws, so afterward I worked on a little something as a surprise. Later in the evening, I attended a two-hour research focus group for artists in the fandom. A lot of topics were discussed among the attendees that should make for some interesting results when our researchers are done.

Sunday, February 23rd

I went around the Dealer’s Room again and took more pictures of costumers. Then it was time for Fox Amoore’s charity concert! Fox played some of his own past and upcoming pieces as well as some jazz numbers with Amadhia on vocals. I managed to snag a minute of Fox’s time as the room cleared to hand off the ink card I’d done. Let’s just say he seemed to like it.

Art card done as a gift for Fox Amoore.

Another big highlight of Sunday was the fursuit dance competition. One of two opening performances involved Telephone (a costumer popular for her unparalleled skill in being ridiculously adorable) dancing with a little girl. I plan to show this video to anyone who might wonder why I associate with furry fandom:

Telephone Dancing With Michaela TFF 2014NamelessNoob89

Before long, the time came for Closing Ceremonies. A lot of money had been raised for the charity, The Center for Animal Research and Education (CARE), including some last-minute funds gathered from the crowd. More faces met high-velocity pies, and the A/V staff teased the rest of the people on stage by putting captions over the video feeds that were visible only to the audience. Furry Fiesta definitely went out with a bang.

We returned to my friend’s apartment for dinner and to pack. I flew out the next day, but not before being hassled by her cats and taking a few more pictures by which to remember everything. I left two pieces lighter than I came (and some part lighter in heart, too). Anthrocon is next unless plans change – Pittsburgh had better be ready for bugs!